News for Immediate Release
Feb. 9, 2021
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, [email protected]
Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho offers long-term strategy for conserving fish populations, sustaining economic health of communities in Pacific Northwest
MISSOULA, Mont. – Backcountry Hunters & Anglers members voiced support for a wide-ranging proposal by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) that would invest $33.5 billion to facilitate restoration of wild salmon and steelhead fisheries in the Columbia and Lower Snake rivers while sustaining agriculture and economic interests.
Highlights of Simpson’s proposal, should it be implemented, include 14,000 acres of new habitat for big game species and nesting birds, enhancing recreational opportunities, including fishing, boating, hiking and camping. His proposal also includes improvements in Northwest infrastructure to address the removal of the four lower Snake River dams. Breaching the dams is predicted to result in a two- to threefold increase in salmon abundance in the Snake River basin.
“Congressman Simpson’s proposal for a re-imagined Lower Snake River is a groundbreaking opportunity to restore salmon runs to the basin,” said Rob Parkins, BHA public access coordinator. “His plan not only will restore historic fish runs; it also will enable stakeholders to come together on a strategy that will benefit fish and wildlife, create jobs and boost the economies of the communities in the area.
“We agree with Congressman Simpson: This is a heavy lift, and the path to success will be challenging,” Parkins continued. “Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is committed to working with Congressman Simpson and our conservation partners in the efforts to develop solutions for a healthy river and region.”
BHA chapter leaders in the Northwest commended Rep. Simpson’s bold plan.
“Idahoans have worked hard to conserve, restore and reconnect the most intact spawning habitat left in the lower 48 for anadromous fish,” said Jeff Klausmann, of Driggs, co-chair of the Idaho chapter of BHA. “Despite decades of debate and over $17 billion spent to mitigate downstream impacts, fish continue to return to their natal waters at levels significantly below recovery goals. Idaho BHA commends Congressman Simpson for working with all stakeholders involved to find a new path forward that benefits all communities reliant on the recreational and economic opportunities that the Snake and Salmon Rivers provide."
“Finding a winning solution for fish, farmers, industry and consumers would be a huge success for all,” said Morgan Olson, conservation/habitat director with the Oregon BHA chapter, of Cove, Oregon. “The Oregon chapter of BHA supports the efforts of Congressman Simpson in his quest to ensure viable economic solutions for increasing salmon and steelhead returns on the Snake River system without increasing cost for farmers, industry and consumers."
“The concept to remove the four lower Snake River dams being proposed by Congressman Simpson is one that is long overdue,” said Bryce Levin, Region 1 conservation and policy leader with the Washington chapter of BHA. “Congressman Simpson and his staff took an approach that includes all stakeholders in the region and gives them a seat at the table to shape this process. This inclusion would allow agricultural, transportation, energy, the outdoor economy and tribal interests to be accounted for while giving much needed relief to the salmon and steelhead – as well as the people – that call the Snake River Basin home.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Levin, who lives in Lake Stevens. “It’s time to come together and find solutions for all stakeholders.”
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